Jail for fuel thiefs caught in the act

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TWO men caught red handed stealing diesel fuel from a depot in Market Rasen were each jailed for nine months at Lincoln Crown Court.

Michael Barrett, 31, and Alan Bennett, 35, both of Stephenson House, Mather Road, Newark travelled to Market Rasen with 20 barrels loaded into the back of their van ready to take the fuel away.

Prosecuting Phil Howes said they got into the town’s Peter Rhodes depot by breaking through fence panelling at an adjoining premises.

He said: “This was a determined attempt to steal fuel but a neighbour heard the noise and alerted police. Had they not been interrupted they would have taken the fuel.”

Officers arrived to find Barrett hiding behind a cardboard box. Bennett fled but was arrested later after he was found walking along a road in the Faldingworth area

Barrett and Bennett each admitted a charge of attempted theft and two charges of damaging property as a result of the incident on April 1.

Judge Michael Heath told them: “This was a deliberate expedition. You came with an expressed intention to steal diesel and you came tooled up.”

Defending Barrett Joanne Staples said her client had a drink problem but was making concerted efforts to bring it under control.

She said Barrett is not currently working but helps his mother care for his older brother who has severe learning disabilities.

Defending Bennett Sunil Khanna said his client had a number of problems at the time arising from the break down of his relationship and eventually lost his job.

He described the offence as an isolated incident and said Bennett had previously stayed out of trouble for 10 years.